-Or how NOT to take photos of Your dogs...

People with dogs often take a tremaendous ammount of photos, especially now, when the cameras has become digitalized and the purpose of the photos more and more are to be published on homepages instead of being printed on paper in a photolab. Never the less the results are often far from as good as they should be, -and could be with minor adjustments regarding the photografer.
We often hear the words; "I need to get a better camera, my photos are allways sooo bad". And then off they go to by another digital pocketcamera with more pixels, or perhaps their first digital single lens focal refleks camera. But the truth is, that most improvements could be achived only by listening to a few simple advises of wich the first one should be to learn when NOT to press the releasebutten on Your camera! In the following we will try to give You a few hints that will improve Your photos. Theese advises contains simple rules to follow, but sometimes -by knowing when to break theese rules, Your photos will not only be good, they will be GREAT....

You should NOT press the release-button when...............   
You are not in level with the dog! Don't stand up, get down on Your knees, so You can see the dog in a normal perspektive.
If You click on the photo, You will see the result of not being in level with the dog.

The photografer is not in level with the dog

You should NOT press the release-button when...............   
You are to far away from the dog. Many photos contains a small "objekt" in the middle. When taking a closer look it is obvious that this small objekt originally was soposed to be main motive of the photo! The dog should take up at least half the space in the viewfinder.
If You click on the photo, You will see the result of not being close enough to the dog.

Here the photografer is far to far away from the dog. She does'nt have a telelense to zoom with.

You should NOT press the release-button when...............   
You are too close to the dog. The perspektive will make the dog look funny with perhaps a large head and small legs. Better walk backwards a few meters and use the zoom to make the dog as large as You want it to be in the viewfinder.
If You click on the photo, You will see the result of being too close to the dog.

Here the photografer is far too close to the dog.

You should NOT press the releasebutton when...............   
The background will be desturbing the main motive of the photo. Make sure the background is a calm surface or motive, that won't steal the attention from Your dog.You will eigther have to move the dog and perhaps even make the background blurred by increasing the focal lenght by zooming in on the dog.
Another way of making the background less disturbent is to alter the aperture value. Many cameras have this oportunity today. Aperture value is the same as F-stops. It determinds how large an opening the light will go through before it creates the image on the sensor. If there is a large whole, the dept of field will be little; meaning that The background and some of the foregrown will be blured. The size of the aperture is described in values from 1,4 to 22. (Some speciel lenses can have aperturevalues lower or higher than this) Funny enough the lower the number is, means that You have a large whole for the light to go though = little dept of field = blurished background. If You click here, You will see the result of having a disturbing background, and how much it can do to Your photo to lower the aperture value.

You should NOT press the release-button when...............   
There is not enough light. Using a flash never just solves problems with too little light. It will also alter the colors and leave a hard shadow behind the dog. Wait until the light is better, take the photo another day. If You really need to make a photo in such poor conditions, the way out could be to increase the ISO-value. Many compact cameras leaves You a possibillity to manually determind the ISO-value. BUT... increasing the ISO-value will make more digital noise in Your photo. Therefor this is not a perfekt solution eigther.
If You click on the photo, You will see the result of not having enough light.

Here the light is not good for taking pictures, and the white snow in the background will make it difficult to measure the light.

You should NOT press the release-button when...............   
You are not so familiar with You camera, that You know how to hold it as still as possible. You have some training to do: Keep Your elbows tight in to Your chest. Make sure to use both hands to hold the camera, and make sure You are standing or sitting in a possition, that will not make You tired or shake. If using the zoom, You will also make the shakings look larger. Therfor zoomlenses often requirers a trepod. If You don't have acces to one, lean against a solid objekt (hous, tree, car etc.) whilst taking the photo.
If You click on the photo, You will see the result of not being able to hold the camrea still and how it is done correct.

It is amazing how people often takes funny positions when they are taking a photo.

Even with a small silver-colored pocketcamera, You are able to make good photos of Your dogs. And in theese digital days the cost pro photo is minimal. So get out there and start training. Many things can be corrected in photoshop, but the best photos are good allready when You press the button! All the photos except the pedagogical examples and the two examples of what an altered F-stop can do to Your photo, is taken by a little, old shiny Canon Ixus with only 4 megapixels and 3 times optical zoom. (Don't use digital zoom, it won't give You a good result, if You want to crop a photo, do it in the computer). But look at the portrait of Ajax below. It actualy is quite good for being taken with such a small and unmodern camera.

Champion and veteran Mihakias Millennium Aja's Girl Ajax

Another advise will be to get a friend to help You, when making photos of dogs or other animals. Many times it will be a good idea to have a helper, that knows how to stack the dog and to keep its attention with treats so it will not rush towards the photografer all the time. Dogs can be sooo social. Do also remember, that the dog will get tired fast, if it is to stand stacked again and again. Make sure the photosessions don't take to long time.

It's obvious, that Ajax think I'm a complete idiot now.

Our "camerabag" contains:
2 Nikon D300
Nikon D200
Nikon D80
AFS Nikkor 600 f/4 ED VR
AFS Nikkor 300 f/2,8 IF ED II
AFS Zoomnikkor 70-200 f/2,8 IF ED VR
AF Nikkor 85 mm f/1,8
Sigma 150  f/2,8 EX DG APO HSM MACRO
Sigma 18-50 f/2,8 EX DC MACRO
Nikkor teleconverter AF TC 20E II AF
Nikkor teleconverter AF TC 14E II AF
Canon Ixus
"Gitzo" tripod with a Wimberly head
"Stabil" tripod with a Gitzo ballhead

But offcourse...less will do :-))